06th Sep 2011

Yet again, as is the way, it’s been quite a time since I last wrote an update for the site. I can assure you that it’s due to the crazy whirlwind of activity that’s happened over the last few months.

So, seeing as today is Labor Day here in the US, and having been for a vigorous 8 mile walk (yes, exercise is still something I have to put in, even when it’s as scarce for me as it is right now!), a few hours’ practice, some laundry and a spot of cleaning my apartment, it seemed the appropriate time to sit down, relax for the rest of the afternoon and detail some of what’s been going on at the headquarters here.

For the next year, I’m going to be living in Brooklyn, New York (NYC), where I have been now for the past month (since August 1st, to be exact). It’s a school-related work-experience year that all foreign students (unless you’ve committed a crime or some-such idiotic act), are entitled to, so I decided around the time I last updated my site, that I wanted to spend mine in The Big Apple. I’m going to be honest, 6 months ago, the thought of moving to NYC was a daunting and extremely scary prospect: the massive buildings, the fast-paced mentality, the horror stories of being a miserable, starving artist etc., etc.
Would it be melodramatic of me to say that this city has potentially saved my life? Answer: yes (haha!). But for those of you who know what transformation took place with me over the last year, you’ll understand what I’m talking about…

NYC is inspiring because it is a city that constantly reminds you to live for NOW. It has amazing beauty, but also edge and grit. It has it’s quieter, more serene areas, but is also has the most over-the-top-Times-Square-crazy-party-life districts, too. It has an abundance of culture, from so many places and backgrounds, that have created this melting pot over a space that’s not as big as you would think. NYC has the ‘tude but you’ll always get help with your luggage in the Subway. You’ll never get bored with both the scenes and up-to-date ideas and creativity produced by anyone and everyone, Einstein to Average Joe.
And people like it when you smile at them in the street. Even if you or they are a little bit crazy…
In short, I am very happy here and inspired. Thought I’d just express that. Which brings me to the proper update…

So, why am I happy? Because I can be who I really am here:

Human Equivalent is back in business, after a 1 year (and a half)’s hiatus (blame the Masters course… ;). I’ve decided to go back to my roots, to a time when I had the same fiery passion to just make some fun and bristling music with a nice wee group of friends, so am returning to the Quartet setting, with sax, electric guitar, electric bass and drums, for that edgy Rock-Jazz I’ve missed for so long.
Human Equivalent NYC features Serghio Jansen on electric guitar, Alex ‘Busby’ Smith on electric bass and Bob Edinger on drums. They are all NYC-based musicians, all incredible and just some of many of the coolest people I’ve met here so far.
We’ve already done a show, got a small recording out of it, so will be posting that up in the near future, as a little taster, unless we get an opportunity to record something with even better quality before then…!

Some other projects I’m going to be getting a chance to be involved in is drummer Rodrigo Bonelli’s Group, who specializes in a mixture of contemporary jazz & Brazilian music. If you’re in the city, try and check this group out!
I’m also having the pleasure of sitting in with vocalist and composer Emily Wolf over the next month, a great singer who I went to school with, for some more straight-ahead jazz, in some great little settings in and around the city!

So, that’s some of the performances I will be doing/have been a part of. But there’s more…

A good friend of mine from Berklee approached me over the summer to inform me that a company in Manhattan was looking for an intern. As I had only just graduated from the Masters and the world was looking like a rather big oyster, the opportunity was something I definitely wanted to participate in.

Yessian Music is a production house for original music, sound design, audio mixing and music licensing in film, television, advertising, gaming and even theme parks. I was a performance major (along with plenty of composing) for my time at school, so you can imagine that I am very willing to learn the ins-and-outs of the business and how it all works, as it wasn’t the avenue I pursued originally.
Needless to say, I am extremely fortunate to have been given this position and can’t express how much I enjoy working there. Not only am I still continuing to learn, but the team at the office have made my settling-in to NYC even more easy, with their supportive work-ethic and friendship! The advertising industry is one that I never even thought about (mainly just because, again, my previous knowledge of how it all worked was minimal), but it is incredibly creative and the aspects involved with analyzing music and film, deciding what might fit and (for the on-site composers), having to produce something for a deadline, with certain criteria, is amazing to be a part of. It’s also giving me the chance to get to grips with the technology side of music and writing, something I always wanted to do, but never had time to knuckle down to during school.

So, fingers crossed that I get to be a part of this experience a little longer…!

I’m really going to try my best to update more regularly from now on, it’s not that hard an activity to do, really! So, watch this space for a Leah Gough-Cooper news update near you! 😉



CD Review ‘Future Pop’ – The List, March 2010

04th Apr 2010

Leah Gough-Cooper’s Human Equivalent – Future Pop

Dumfries-born, Boston-based saxophonist Leah Gough-Cooper’s debut album shares three musicians with drummer Patrick Kunka’s album (reviewed a couple of issues back), and merits equally high praise. While certainly accessible, Gough-Cooper’s intelligently crafted music is way too intense to be a credible future pop, nice though that notion is, but open-minded rock/pop/funk/dance fans may well connect with what is going on here.

The saxophonist’s fluent and inventive work on alto and soprano is supported by responsive and focused ensemble playing and strong soloing from the band, featuring Kunka and pianist Alan Benzie (prominent on Fender Rhodes and electric keyboards as well as piano) alongside guitarist Serghio Jansen and bassist Martin Nessi. George Garzone, a leading figure in the Berklee College faculty, is a special guest on tenor saxophone on ‘Night Surf’.

Kenny Mathieson – The List, 29 March 2010.

CD Review ‘Future Pop’ – Jazzwise Magazine, Issue 138, Feb 2010

27th Jan 2010

Leah Gough-Cooper’s Human Equivalent ‘Future Pop’ (three stars)
Leah Gough-Cooper (as,ss), Serghio Jansen (g), Alan Benzie (p, Rhodes, kys), Martin Nessi (b) and Patrick Kunka (dr)

A Scottish band made up of former Berklee students and young award winning Scottish jazz musicians is fronted by a saxophonist-composer barely out of her teens. This makes the level of musicianship on this CD all the more astonishing. Style-wise it’s largely jazz-rock fusion given a vigorous makeover. Because it’s a sub-genre of jazz in which a very high level of notes and musicianship is essential it’s no surprise it has its devotees in the rehearsal corridors of Berklee – for evidence listen to Hiromi’s band. Yet, Gough-Cooper’s lyrical alto sax seems also to have absorbed M-Base-type odd metered cryptic patterns and some of the impressive drummer’s bustling grooves certainly demonstrate a line through to drum and bass and hip hop. Nevertheless Future Pop – not sure what that’s meant to say about it – inherits more directly from the world of Return to Forever, the keyboard impressionism of Weather Report, with some 1980s Marcus Miller-style funk thrown in. It’s hardly the most original of causes, but the band manages to attain a high quality of musicianship without sacrificing any of their youthful high spirits. Selwyn Harris



22nd Dec 2008

Organised and led by saxophonist Paul Towndrow, Jazz Futures started in the summer a platform for up and coming players. Started in the summer of 2008, we are playing at Glasgow Winterfest in January 2009. Fun, as I get to play with John Lowrie, drummer in Dumfries Youth Jazz Group when I was a member.


22nd Dec 2008

Had a great time in Venezuela and Aruba in June 2008 playing with this band and Oscar Stagnaro and an awesome time with them at the Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival in September 2008. We are hoping to organise a European Tour in the summer, visiting our home countries of Switzerland, Italy, U.K., Holland and any countries in between!!

  1. MP3: Future Pop ('Future Pop')
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  2. MP3: Leaf Blower ('Future Pop')
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  3. MP3: On the Other Side
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  4. MP3: From the Ash (live at Bar East)
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